The new Justice Society of America members are dropping like flies. How many will be left on DC’s Stargirl by the time they defeat Eclipso? “Summer School: Chapter Eight” turned its attention to Rick and Beth as they became the new targets of Eclipso’s darkness. Ultimately, one hero rose to the occasion to find their light while the other crumbled under the manipulation. All these losses are too much!
Rick’s (aka. Hourman) story was a case of a tortured narrative. He came into Stargirl as a sensitive rebel who wanted to find happiness, but now he might be leaving as the worst thing he imagined: a criminal. Or better yet, a cruel and vindictive man like his uncle. Rick’s development hadn’t shined like the others on his team, especially since he mostly focused on getting justice for his parents. However, Stargirl Season 2 did a great job breaking down his walls and connecting with Solomon Grundy. Their unlikely friendly moments in the woods were pleasant and had a fun quality to them; even a villain like Grundy just wanted to have a friend. If Eclipso hadn’t messed things up, the hero and villain could’ve bonded more and redeemed their storylines.
“Summer School: Chapter Eight” made you sympathize more with Rick. From its somber tone and the general treatment Rick received from his uncle, the series made it clear that it wanted us to feel bad for him as he fell for Eclipso’s manipulation. Rick’s chances of escaping Blue Valley and heading to university will now be in jeopardy because the supervillain got his way. The scene with the teacher giving Rick the papers about scholarships and funding gave him a sliver of hope; a tiny ray of light for him to live a better life. “Summer School: Chapter Eight” came crashing down in an emotional pile by the final few minutes of the episode.
“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley served as one of the key influences for Rick and Solomon’s shared story. All you needed to do was watch one scene from the classic Universal movie to see some of the parallels, or even from the book or pop culture scenes from other movies/TV shows. Solomon Grundy finding some humanity, the “dead body of the little girl” by the river, and the swarming paranoid townsfolk hunting to kill stayed true to the tone of the story. Except for, you know, Eclipso’s darkness in the mix. It was heartbreaking to have Rick and Grundy’s friendship crumble from the manipulation and the sad look on Grundy’s face when he saw his friend being taken away by the police. While this was the first chapter they interacted, their chemistry came off very strong, like they understood each other and were friends.
Will this be the end of Hourman’s time in the JSA? Rick crushed the hourglass necklace and he’s been arrested for beating his uncle into a critical condition. Unless he’s cleared of the charges and rebuilds the hourglass, he won’t be free or have the powers to be a superhero again. This would be a devastating loss for Stargirl and the team to lose another member from the series. Bring Yolanda back! Bring Rick back! We’re losing all the JSA members from Stargirl Season 1, and possibly even Cindy too. Why are they taking everyone?!
Beth’s story, on the other hand, offered the pleasant bright spot we needed. Granted, Eclipso played the same tricks and said a lot of really dark stuff, but Beth emerged as the hero she knew she was. Beth IS Doctor Mid-Nite! I loved the moment when Beth confidently said it and the goggles recognized her as the new iteration of the alter-ego. Eclipso wasn’t prepared for Beth rising like a phoenix. And, her shutting down all his gaslighting, abuse, and racism was a powerful moment that gave Beth one of her best scenes yet.
The creepy use of shadows and editing style of Eclipso’s powers highlighted one of the good things about “Summer School: Chapter Eight.” The second Beth entered the house you could feel a sharp tonal shift to the episode that made it more horror and unnerving. Beth is the weakest member of the JSA, and the added darkness and Eclipso’s creepy child were used to show that Eclipso had all the power in their fight. The many jump cuts and him playing with illusions were a nice touch that made us doubt what was actually true. Luckily, Beth discovering the goggles reveal Eclipso’s powers now make her one of the most valuable members of the team. Eclipso could fight her head-on, but his mental tricks won’t work if she sees through his bluff.
How will Courtney be able to charge the Cosmic Staff? “Cosmo” needs something to bring the light out; whatever Eclipso did, he sucked the light right out of it. Could this be how the original Starman heads to Blue Valley? He might know a way to fix the staff, especially since it was his weapon for a long time. And, Stargirl needs a reason to drop the twist that Starman has been alive all this time.
“Summer School: Chapter Eight” broke down the JSA for it to potentially make it better than ever. The team is down two members, but hopefully Hourman and Wildcat return to the fold to reunite the team. Plus, with Cameron now potentially discovering his ice powers, they’ll need to team up in case he lashes out against Courtney and the other JSA members. The team doesn’t need any more losses!
DC’s Stargirl airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW and streams Wednesdays on cwtv.com.